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The Landfill Interest Group (LIG), an active specialist interest group within the Institute of Waste Management of Southern Africa (IWMSA) hosted a Waste Disposal Landfill Seminar in October 2009, at the Business School of the University of Stellenbosch, entitled “The Functional Landfill”.

Annually approximately two million tons of waste is generated in Cape Town and surrounds. In other words, each person, approximately 3.5mn people, comprising of about 902,000 households in the greater Cape Town area, produces between 1.0 - 2.0 kilograms of waste per day. Waste generation was growing at about seven per cent per annum – faster than the city’s population growth of two per cent per annum. Three of the City’s landfill sights are already closed and the remaining are filling up at a rapid speed.
Richard Emery, Chairman of the IWMSA’s Western Cape branch indicated, “the main goal of the Waste Disposal Landfill Seminar was to identify and discuss feasible practices and practicalities of landfills in a South African context; this was definitely achieved through the sharing of knowledge and information across the diverse group of delegates that attended the event.”
Representatives within the realm of waste management from across the nation descended on Cape Town to discuss the dire situation of South Africa’s current landfill spaces and shared knowledge and experiences on how best to extend the lifespan of landfill sites. Included on the list of speakers was, Mr. Jarrod Ball from Golder Associates, who shed much light in his presentation “The Search for a new Regional Landfill Site to service the City of Cape Town”, and shared his experience pertaining to the research that was conducted and the requirements that need to be met when identifying a site for landfill purposes. Mr. John Parkin, of Durban Cleansing and Solid Waste, kept the audience enthralled with his presentation on “Durban’s Landfill Gas to Electricity Project - Two year on”, where he discussed the lessons learnt and challenges that were met from using landfill gas as an alternative form of energy. Some of the other topics covered included – “Marine Oil Site development; GIGSA1200W – The new Specifications for Geosynthetic liners; Embracing Technology at Coastal Parks; MIG funding of landfill sites; Planning responsible waste management during FIFATM Football World Cup 2010, Auditing of Waste Management Facilities; Key implications of the National Environmental Management Waste Act to name a few.
Emery adds, “Landfills won’t go away, there will always be a demand for them, it is therefore important for us to maintain and increase the lifespan of landfills as far as possible. With the new National Environmental Waste Act being introduced, and new waste management legislation coming into play, we foresee dramatic changes in the management of waste and ultimately the management of landfill sites. We will start seeing proposed strategies rolling out from government early 2010.”
The two day conference was fully booked, with a definite demand for another session; a similar conference is definitely on the cards and will be hosted in the near future to engage with even more stakeholders.